The Strategic Airlift Capability is a multinational programme that provides assured access to strategic military airlift capability for its 12 member nations: Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States of America. The SAC mission is to provide C-17 airlift to meet the requirements of the SAC Nations.
In 2008, ten NATO member countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United States) and two Partnership for Peace Nations (Finland and Sweden) established SAC through the SAC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). By sharing resources, these nations acquired airlift capability through economy of scale. This "Smart Defence" concept matches NATO's strategy of investing in more flexible and mobile armed forces, while capitalizing on collaborative defense projects and avoiding duplication of capabilities.
Each participating Nation owns a share of the available flight hours that can be used for missions without the prerequisite to consult with the other SAC Member Nations. Personnel contributed to the Heavy Airlift Wing, the operational arm of the SAC, correspond to the participating Nation's share of flight hours and are assigned to various missions, not only those requested by their Nation. Nevertheless, a country can withdraw its crew from a particular mission for National limitations.
One of the features of SAC is the commitment of the Member Nations to jointly own and operate the C-17 for an additional30 years.
From day one, SAC Nations conducted missions in support of National, UN, EU, and NATO obligations, including operations, exercises, training and humanitarian relief. Mission execution has been successful, safe and cost-effective. Since 2009, the 12 Nations have demonstrated what can be accomplished when resources and expertise are pooled and shared. Costs of the SAC program have remained well below the target level set by the Member Nations in the SAC Memorandum of Understanding. Sharing of all life-cycle costs makes membership in the SAC affordable also to smaller Nations. In 2019, The NAMP supported the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) in achieving 2,288 flying hours with a mission capability rate of over 83%.